Pieces of Me

The Seven Year Text Message

I can’t do this anymore. Seven years ago I hit send on the text message.

I did not know what day it was. I did not know the date. The house was dark and dim, but I did not know the time. A tiny baby lay asleep in his cradle. A tiny toddler asleep in the bed next to me. The television was off and I held my mobile phone in my hands. All I could do was stare ahead.

I did not know what I meant when I sent the text message. I did not know what “this” was.  But I sent it anyway. Because the dead weight of parenting, especially in the first few weeks of bringing a newborn home can take away everything. Leaving you staring into a seemingly empty room with sleep deprivation and exhaustion as your only solace and a text message that made no sense, making perfect sense.

My husband received the text message. He was out with his friends, a quiet dinner to catch up. In my mind he was out with his friends every night. In my mind I juggled the newborn and toddler all on my own. But that wasn’t true. This was the first time he had been out in months. He was always home straight after work, ready to pick up where he left off in the morning.

But I sent the text message without logic. Without reason. Without a sense of self. Without a sense of him.

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One of the things rarely spoken about, taboo almost, is the impact children can have on a relationship. It seems selfish to even consider it. Having children is such a blessing and a miracle that tainting it even in the slightest way with the impact it can have on the two people who want these babies so much is seen as a sin against the institution.

Now if you are reading this shaking your head saying ‘nope not us, it was all sunshine and roses.’ Then I am genuinely happy for you. But for me and for many friends and family in my life, having kids turned a once loving relationship into something we couldn’t recognise anymore.

It is not like you could see it break, slow motion like, or that you even noticed the cracks. It is more like you woke up one day and realised all the pieces were shattered on the floor and the little energy you had, you simply couldn’t use to pick them all up again. That is when text messages are sent. Messages without sense. Messages that are a cry for help.

When my husband received the message he did not reply. He got in his car and drove home. He called me the whole way. The next day he organised for someone to watch the boys, took the day off work and we spent the whole entire day together. Oh-my-goodness it was exhausting. Talking and talking and talking. We drove out to the beach for lunch and headed into town for dinner. Talking and talking and talking.

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The relationship wasn’t broken. It just didn’t work the way it used to anymore. And that’s far from broken, it is okay. Just as two people evolve, change and melt into the new mould of parents, then it is inevitable that the same two people must evolve in the way their relationship works, exists and love takes a new shape.

One of the things even more rarely spoken about is how relationships rebuild themselves after children. Parenting, marriage, making sense of it all become a game of survivor. The challenges gruelling, some of them disgusting even, the conditions difficult at the best of times. But the reward of winning?

Relationships surviving and growing stronger after a couple becomes a family shouldn’t just be talked about, it should be supported. Celebrated even. The moment children are born all our focus shifts to them. Making the right decisions and doing the best for them. But we can’t forget that making the right decisions and doing the best for the relationship is just as important.

Recently, late one night in bed, I turned to hubby and said “we didn’t break this.” Turns out we didn’t just not break it; things are better than when we started. It was a long way to come from the text message I sent to him from that same bed seven years ago.

Do you celebrate your relationship?
Do relationships change in the shadow of parenting?

 

Disclosure: These images were taken on a recent trip to Japan,
twenty-one years of making this relationship work x

 

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  • Oh Josefa. This is beautiful ….
    I struggled with my first baby. I felt very much alone as my husband travelled for work, Then he actually worked in a different city for a year while I had a full time job, a one year old and a puppy. It was exhausting and completely changed our dynamic. It’s a wonder we survived. But we did! Thankfully …

    • All babies are hard, but first ones especially. Worked in a different city – while you had a full time job! That sounds impossible! Seems like we all survive, and grow, and change, and become stronger…xx

  • Beautiful post, Josefa. I love that your husband drove home as soon as he received your text message. That made me choke up. Yes, children have changed our relationship. Sometimes I feel it makes us stronger and closer as a couple, sometimes I feel a big distance between us when I get bogged down in the monotony and constant demands from little people. Our relationship has also changed as we’ve grown. We were in our early twenties when we started dating. We’ve grown a lot as a couple since then. There are so many different factors that can impact on your relationship. I’m glad everything worked out with you and your hubby x

    • I agree Renee, children or no children, relationships will change and evolve with time for a whole number of reasons. Nothing in life ever stays the same. I think for most of us it all works out – doesn’t it? Seems like you and Dave are doing an awesome job juggling those little ones and keeping the fires burning at home too xx <3

  • LydiaCLee

    What a fabulously important post! I love that you sent the text and I love that your husband understood it’s importance instead of arguing with you and blaming you and defending himself. I think it’s not just children. A loss of a job, a loss of a parent, all sorts of things can change a dynamic in a relationship. I love this post very much. Lessons for us all.

    • So true, relationships need to survive the waters of so many things – things we have no comprehension of the day we say “I do” or the day we decide that this is it forever…

  • Oh, that made me tear up. That’s how it should be. My husband and I had already been through a lot of tough stuff and had our own kids before having one together. We faced it together like we always had and it worked for us.

    • So important to face everything together and acknowledge that together we are better xx

  • I too have sent that text message on a few occasions. Thank you Josefa, for sharing your honest journey. You’ve made me feel normal. We are deep in the throws of parenting our children and step children, a most difficult journey, one in which we never had the time to really create our own relationship first. We have had to (and continue to) evolve our relationship around our children, not an easy thing to do without that time to really get to know one another first. But we are managing, and while we have difficult days, we have some really wonderful ones too. Thanks again for sharing, it is so important that we do when we can. xxx

    • Biggest of hugs xx Sharing our stories is a way to keep the fires burning that we are all the same, facing the same battles, maybe in different ways, but the same nonetheless xx

    • Gorgeous, I think you’re incredible with the way you and Adam make your life work. I never thought about how you guys didn’t have the time together pre-kids because you blended together. Just proves what an amazing couple you are to make it all work. xx

  • Oh man. I felt this. Thanks, Josefa. I’ve had those moments. And the ridiculous doubts that creep in because you’re exhausted, cranky and not feeling yourself – mentally, physically and emotionally. You feel attached to a little creature, you feel misshapen, you feel all the feelings and the usual filter that picks the reality from the un- is gone. Thanks for setting the cogs turning on this one.

    • Oh those ridiculous doubts can be terrible! There were moments when they almost broke me in half…cogs turning is always a good thing 😉

  • I admire your honesty Josefa. It’s very much taboo to admit that children can affect your relationship, but naive to think they don’t. Our relationship has been tested to it’s limits, but has never broken. We’ve always been able to rebuild. I think it takes communication and patience. Patience is so important. Patience to know that hard times will pass, and patience to know that feelings of doubt and loneliness are passing moments. I also think that knowing through each test, the relationship can be rebuilt, and even stronger than before. Thank you for sharing your story Josefa.

    • I think it is better to be ready for the relationship to change in whatever dynamic that may be, than naive in thinking that it won’t. I was naive, I was defensive, but learnt my lessons slowly….

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    I have recently done this with my hubby. I said things I have thought for a couple years and I broke his heart. He heard the words and took them in his way – all negative but I was saying my words because I didn’t want to just survive a marriage. Kids consume everything and unfortunately marriage waits too long sometimes.

  • Love your heart Josefa and the way you’ve expressed it here. I have noticed this year that the relationship with my hubby has changed and the demands on our time to keep the family fed and sheltered has impacted our alone time. We’ve been working on communicating more and spending time together without the kids. I’m glad to read here how wonderful your marriage has gotten since that text message. I agree that we should celebrate marriages that survive through the kid years because many often break up because of it. x

    • Many do often break up and those stories are often kept in the dark, it is heartbreaking xx

  • A vital post and one which has resonated with those who’ve already commented. So much is ‘made up’ as fact from our social media trawling about how good it is to be a parent, how wonderful our life is etc but it is not..always..or often for some. It is bloody hard work both being a partner and a parent. Add to the mix work and other responsibilities and it can seem endless and unrelenting. I am glad you pressed send and that he came home. I am now with my husband 24/7 and it is just US. In over 45 years, it has never been ‘just us’ so whilst we are relishing in that….we are having to learn how to get on as partners, not grandparents or parents. It is new and I like it but oh my goodness, like all things new there are ups and downs.

    • I love how you say “it is bloody hard work” Denyse – it is! and more often than not, that is not what people are saying, I think a relationship is in constant evolution, your situation shows that perfectly xx

  • I think even the most fairytale romance takes a bit of work and while we don’t have kids, and get lots of chances to celebrate love, we still have to take time and energy to invest in our relationship. I often wonder how different our relationship would be if we had kids, I’m sure it would be the same but very different. I love that you sent that text and love even more that hubby came home straight away – he’s a keeper! I love that you celebrate your relationship, your relationship isn’t broken, it’s flourishing. You two did that – together! Fabulous pics by the way, full of love!

  • So many times that I have been so tired that I have nearly hit send messages . Relationships really do evolve and change over time and having kids keeps life very busy. Thanks for sharing and reminding me how important it is to talk to each other !

  • I think often we’re scared to admit that things have changed, or aren’t working the way they used to. But acknowledging that things have changed is the only way to move forward. Beautiful post :).

    • Thank you, it is so important to accept that things will change and work through those changes together xx

  • DreamingOfMalta

    No one tells you how kids really do change a marriage. If you can manage to have your kids looked after, time as a couple together whether an overnight stay at a hotel or a nice restaurant revives the spirit. Also if women can honestly talk about this with other women, and reading posts like this, they don’t feel alone in their struggles. I know with me experiencing post natal depression made it all the more harder but pulled through. Having an understanding, patient loving husband helped.

    • I think it is so important that women (and men) talk about these topics openly and honestly. Sometimes that feeling that you are not alone si all you need to get through a difficult moment xx

  • A really honest post Josefa. We went through a lot to be parents, so maybe we had a lot of testing beforehand. Still parenting is hard and we’ve had our ups and downs. 21 years married though, so I guess the ups level things up and we keep on going.

    • We must keep going don’t we Kathy, happiness and love are at the end of making sure that we do keep going, and that is worth fighting for xx

  • Yes having kids sometimes make you and your husband a separate lover!

  • I relate to this so much. We have been together almost 22 years and as you said (and I just now accept) we are not broken, just changing all the time. Xx

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